Korean Food : Chicken Dish : Chuncheon Dak galbi.
                                           After the last class of the day,

Around 6 o'clock after the last class of the day ended, my class mates and I went out to have dinner near the university. We prowled about looking for delicious food within limited areas around school. We often get dragged by sweet and mouth-watering smell from somewhere. Later, we found us sitting on stalls feeling full out of what we ate. After school, we were happy with that food.

what is That, Mr. Wiki?

Dak galbi
Dak galbi, also romanized dalk galbi, is a popular South Korean dish generally made by stir-frying marinated diced chicken in a gochujang (chili pepper paste) based sauce, and sliced cabbage, sweet potato, scallions, onions and tteok (rice cake) together on a hot plate. It is a local specialty food for the city of Chuncheon, Gangwon Province, where dak galbi originates. Because of its origin, the dish is also called Chuncheon dak galbi.

, it was Dakgalbi.

We, university students, love it  
                                    because of three reasons
First of all, Dakgalbi solves two issues; tastes and nutrition. it contains much protein. Especially, chicken, white meat is well-known for less fat and high protein contains. Almost every youngster including on-a-diet girls indulged to chicken. They believe chicken will help build their muscles, not fatten their belly.

Good medicine is bitter to mouth. However, it doesn’t seem to apply this time. Dakgalbi is yummy enough to be a big fan of it. Pepper paste based sweet sauce just covers diced chicken and vegies. Cabbages and onion soaked in sauce will vary the taste of dish. Sesame leaves add its distinctive flavors on it. You cannot omit rice-cake and sweet potatoes as adding. Rice-cake offsets the spicy taste and gives chewy texture. Sweet potatoes are only sweet ingredient in the dish, and it takes a role of delights out of spicy kingdom. No ingredients should be missed. All the elements work harmonically and create heavenly sweet spicy plate.

Yes, Dakgalbi pleases nutritional needs as well as tastes buds.

Secondly, it needs low budget. Students should spend within their allowance. Some of them are rich enough not to worry but most students must consider their limit. How much does Dakgalbi cost? It costs around 8,000 won per portion. (You must order at least 2 portion to get served. The owner will not take it if you order one. Because too small amount cooked doesn’t taste good.)

You might think it is not that cheap compared to other ordinary dishes such as Kimchijjigae(김치찌개) or fried rice(Bokkeumbab, 볶음밥), that cost about 5000 won per portion. That is true, but you didn’t consider the feature of this food.

Dakgalbi is used not only as the main dish for a meal, but also as side dish for drink. You can see many tables with soju(소주) or beer(Maekju, 맥주) in Dakgalbi restaurant. Owing to sweet, salty, and spicy taste, it is a perfect dish for drinking. In other words, you can eat and drink at the same table at one time. It will let you save another round and spend less money in the end. Let’s suppose that you have Kimchijjigae as a meal and move to another place to drink. I will cost you more.


The history of Dak galbi 

The history of Dakgalbi date back from 1950. Around that time, pork rib was famous in Chuncheon. Suddenly, because of frequent pig crisis, the supply of pork became unstable. The pork restaurant owners started to use chicken inplace of pork, since chicken rather easily get obtained from nearby poultry farms.

Around 1970, numerous kinds of restaurants transformed into Dakgalbi restaurants. They fried Chicken on a particular large round flat pan called ‘Bull-pan’ (불판) in Korean, and made by Hupyeong pan-factory. They began to make Dakgalbi weigh more by adding extra vegies. The first Dakgalbi looked different from the present one. Chicken was skewered and fried by lumps because the chef was not skillful enough to slice the meat. Dakgalbi restaurant was full of day laborers having rests with drinking and eating.

Around from 1975, university and college student began to hold school-parties at Dakgalbi restaurant. They are facsanated by great taste and cheap price. Chuncheon contains army corps as well as numerable universities. Soldiers enjoyed as much Dakgalbi as students did. As a result, it is often called as ordinary-people-galbi(seomingalbi,서민갈비), university-student-galbi(daehaksaenggalbi, 대학생갈비) or soldiergalbi(guningalbi, 군인갈비).

Around 1992, people add rice-cake to Dakgalbi. A High-tempered person could not wait until the meat was well done. They need to fulfill their appetite while waiting. Sweet potatoes was put for two purposes. The first is to sweeten the dish and the second is to judge whether the meat is cooked or not. If sweet-potatoes soften and tender, the meat is also ready to eat. (Although one variation, Dakgalbi without bones, does not follow this rule, meaning meat sometimes cooked quicker.)


In 80’s, Dakgalbi became well-known national-wide through the media. It expanded its boundary from Chuncheon to throughout the nation. In 90, in Dakgalbi alley, there are 20~30 Dakgalbi specialized restaurants.

Later on 2000, southern east Asian tourist travelled to chuncheon thanks to Korean drama influence.  Due to Kyungchun line that connect Chuncheon from Seoul by subway, it gets more popular in flow of Seoul citizen and foreign tourists.

How to Get to Dakgalbi Alley

To get to Chuncheon station.

You must go Sangbong station fist to take Gyeongchun Line.
At Sangbong station,
you take the subway that comes every 20 minutes.
It costs you 2,500 won (using metro-card).
It takes 1hour 5minutes to 1hour 20 minutes to get there.

To get to Dakgalbi Alley
(Dakgalbi golmok, 닭갈비 골목)

First, you can walk there for 20 minutes from the station.
Otherwise, you can take a taxi on the opposite side of the station.
You just ask a taxi driver to get to Myung-dong, Dakgalbi golmok(명동, 닭갈비 골목)
There are so many visitors coming here, so it doesn't matter how well you prounce it. 
It costs you only the regular fare maybe about 2,500 won.
When you see that pillar(the picture above), you can surely get off.
And enjoy!

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Korean Bread : The History of Korean Bread

The first introduction of bread is guessed as 1885 by a missionary named underwood and 아펜젤러. Later, the entrance of the Japanese bakeries stimulates the spread of bread in Korea. The famous old-fashioned bread 옛날빵 such as red-bean bread 단팥빵, fresh cream bread 크림빵, strewed bread 소보루 빵was introduced from Japan.


                               < red-bean bread >

After Korean War, having food aid with huge amount of flour from USA, there appear numerous bakeries in Korea, but bread was considered as high class food only for the rich, Around 60’s thanks to flour aid from USA, the government encouraged the use of flour based food. Schools distributed corn bread and milk for free and bread has been recognized to publics.


 < After Korean War,
 Flour food aid from USA >

 At the end of 1960, the mass produced bread appeared, and factories started to make bread in large quantity. People consumed huge amount of mass produced bread during 1970 to 1980.

                            <Mass producued bread in the factory>

Especially during 70’s to 80’s, the mass produced bread and bakery bread co-existed. It is the time apprentice system prevailed and becoming an artisan is the pride.

From the end of 70’s, as the size of bakeries became larger, they began to have the franchise system owning few franchisees. Later in 80’s, Sinra-myunggwa 신라명과, Shany 샤니, Crown Bakery 크라운 베이커리 has joined the franchise market. Since 80’s, customers tended to prefer bakery bread to mass-produced bread due to new tastes on bread quality and freshness based on economic development. This tendency has accelerated; as a result the market share of bakery became twice as much as that of mass-production.

Later on 2000, it is characterized with the rapid development of the franchise bakery and diversification of bread. The Bakery market divided into the franchise bakery such as branded ‘Paris Baguette’ or ‘Tous les Jours’ and the window bakery (self-owned) that individual owns. Until the middle of 2000, the number of window bakeries is four times as many as franchise ones, but nowadays, in 2009, the numbers became almost the same (window approximately 4400, franchise approx. 4300). However the sales of the franchise are twice as big as one of window. It means that the franchise has higher efficiency and better margin.
There are other new types of bakeries such as ‘in-store bakery’, ‘organic bakery’ and ‘quality bakery’.

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Korean Bread : Kingdom of Franchise bakery. Paris baguette, Tour les Jours.


10 years ago,

There were many ‘town bakeries’ around my elementary school. On the way home, I used to drop by different bakeries on each different day. Although the interior and decoration were not that splendid, haha, frankly speaking, rather old-fashioned, there oozed something warm. The owner baked the bread from early in the morning and prepared to sell them. They tried to make the best taste bread with the effort. They were not only owners but also earnest bakers. And they were kind sellers who remembered me and who were happy with the compliments about tastes. Sometimes, they do gave perks to their regular customers.
Korean’s affection 정 lived in it.


The town bakeries were different from store to store. Some town bakeries have a particular kind of bread, but others do not. Some town bakeries’ owners are an old, plump man, others a young lady, an old grandpa, grandma and so on. The tastes of bread were not guaranteed, so some bread were not delicious.  Of course, some bakeries have the worse sanitation compared to franchise one. Differences were not all good things, but bad as well. But people always miss something that they cannot get. In that way, I yearn for that difference.


 If I describe my feeling of self-own bakeries,
 This picture is. the diversity.


When you walk on the street of Korea, you can easily find the bakeries in Korea Although the main dish of Korea is rice, we do eat bread quite aften anytime in Korea. But you might think that there are just few kinds of the bakeries in Korea, Paris baguette, Tour les Jours. If you come from the countries that eat bread every meal, you should have noticed as soon as you arrived in here. Since one of fourth of Korean bakeires are run by these two franchise companies.


 < paris baguette in Seoul >

It is obvious that the number of self-owned bakeries is

decreasing, while the franchise bakeries increasing. According to the statistics on the newpaper, self-owned bakeries have diminished from 17,000 to 5000. The number of franchise has recorded 3,000 and number two, Tous les Jours almost 1500.

<The number of the franchise bakeries>
   focused on two majors

파리바게뜨 : Paris baguette
뚜레쥬르 :  Tous les Jours

<The number of self owned bakeris>

Reference : Korean newspaper,Segeilbo

Let's ask about the biggest franchise bakery, Paris baguette to Mr. Wiki.

Paris Baguette

Paris Baguette is a division of SPC Group, an international food and food services company based in Korea. Paris Baguette ranks as the top brand-based on brand recognition and brand power- in the highly competitive Korean Bakery market. Paris Baguette presently supplies fresh bakery products to customers through 2,900 stores in Korea, and 50 stores in China. Paris Baguette currently operates 15 stores throughout the United States, in California, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, There are 7 more stores that are planned to be opened by the end of 2012.The brand’s management philosophy focuses on educating its employees with offering the highest quality products with only the freshest ingredients and the best customer service.

 I found the introduction of Tous les Jours on its webpage.

Tous les Jours : European style Healthy bakery

Tous les Jours means every day in French, providing true taste of the fresh bread baked in the branch for the first time in Korea, and makes natural ingredient to bake bread and cake that are fresh every day,

Tous les Jours began from CJ cheiljedang with tremendous history as affiliated brand of CJ Foodville that has been producing flour since 1958 with its own skills, showing its pride of authentic bakery


When I enter the franchise bakeries, I can see young staff serving me with a huge smile, well-designed interior made by professionals, fine bread arrangement, good sanitary system, and trustful bread quality. All of them I love.

If I describe the feeling of franchise bakeries,
This picture is. the standard. 

But instead of trained smile, I miss my old neighbor. Instead good looking store, I want to owner’s interior sense. Instead of high-standard bread, I want to try bomb tasted bread, maybe one of owner’s experimental results.

I hope someday there will be more various colors of bakeries with baker’s warm smile on the street.


 How come  franchise bakeries dominate the market?

The primary reason is the principle of free-markets and the lack of craftsmanship in bakery business.

First of all, as industrialized, the products got mass-produced to reach high productivity and efficiency. The entrepreneur emphasized on rather the profits than the quality. It leads to the mass-produced bread. Later that, the market desired fresh bread made from the store. It seems the business flow changes to fresh bread. There appear diverse self-own bakeries on the street. We usually call it ’town bakery’
동네빵집 in Korean.

However, the advent of the franchise system, people began to be accustomed to standard products that always provide average quality, different from self-owned bakeries that do not guarantee the taste. It can be said ‘McDonald advantage’ with the advantage of franchise system, those bakeries have widely spread throughout the nation. The systemized stores easily followed the trend of the market, so attracted more customers and generate more profits through the organized management system.

 <principle of free market>

The owners of small bakeries transferred to franchcise ones since they became inclined to simple operation and warranted earnings. Through this way, these ‘big dinosaurs’ massacred ‘small town bakeries’ with the economy of scale. As a result, in Korea, almost half of bakeries are franchised by companies. Furthermore half of these franchised bakeries are run by two carnivore dinosaurs, Paris Baguette and Tous les Jours, offering standard and common taste to customers.

Secondly, No or less craftsmanship. There is a saying in Korea that ‘If you have nothing left to do, you own a restaurant.” As you can vaguely feel, it covers the neglecting perspective for workers in food field. Although the chef’s status has much leveled up compared to 50 years before, this notion still lies in Korean.

After people retire, they still want to work but nowhere to work, so they start up bakery business. Based on that notion above, considering their own business, they first come up with restaurant business, but they got depressed by the budget issues. Fortunately, compared to the restaurant, the bakery opens with small budget. It dragged retired workers to the bakery business.

          So Different works, Aren't they?

Here, the critical issue occurs because of the owner’s mind, rephrasing, the lack of craftsmanship. Most of bakery owners are not bakers or they do not even know what the yeast is. Of course, they might get trained in skills and know-how by headquarter training centers, but they might not have mind-set. The primary purpose of running the bakery is earning, not selling good bread. For them, the bakery is their job, not their vocation. They get satisfied if they get profits through the business and do not think about the quality, taste and do not study bread.

Is it really the development of Bread industry?

Since 1960, the bread market has expands, so the bread industry has got bigger. However, I do not dare to say that the bread quality improved. Under the governance of two major bread companies, the bread become standardized and normalized since they study the common taste for general customers. There is no experimental bread that had existed in the ‘town bakery’ that just targeted a few customers in the neighborhood. No diversity. That is exact word that describes Korean bread market.

Few days ago, Paris Baguette announced that the number of franchisee store exceeded over 3000. They do reluctantly publicize that fact, since they assumed that the citizen will not be happy with that. It means customers also become aware of the monopoly of Paris baguette that leads to restrain of customer choices.

As the situation worsens, people began to wriggle. Some, who study in France and Japan and study real French or Japanese baking skills, open their signature bakeries. They aim to be noble bakery and tend to put high price on bread, but have diverse varieties of bread and good taste.

I think the market trend always changes interacting societal changes. The monopoly of bread market in the current market is not that welcoming. But, One day, consumers must pursuit another values on bakeries and it will affect the bakery industry.  It means that it is also one stage to transform to the more diversified and professionalized bakery. Just personally, I hope the change comes very soon because I am quite fed up with common bread.


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